A wild animal should NEVER be used for entertainment…

From: Laura

Comments: I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in your organization for the recent incident involving the wild condor that escaped its handler during your pre-game ceremonies.  I watched the video on the news in horror as the terrified animal not only slipped and fell on the ice, but was also dropped and slammed to the ice as the handler fell with it.

First and foremost, a wild animal should NEVER be used for entertainment.  Have we not learned our lesson from the numerous incidents involving animals used for entertainment that have resulted in injury and death – both to humans and animals?  Had this majestic bird injured one of your players, personnel, or a member of the audience, it would have most certainly resulted in its demise – through no fault of its own.  I understand from news reports that the handler did, in fact, receive an injury from the fall.

To add insult to injury, your organization is promoting this video on the front page of your website – not only boasting about it, but encouraging other organizations to try similar stunts in order to gain website hits.

The actions of your organization are shameful.  Here’s hoping that you don’t try any such (stupid and harmful) stunts in the future.  Please stick to hockey and leave wild animals alone.

Sincerely – a very disappointed and disgusted sports fan,

Reply: We have received a couple emails and facebook posts similar to this. Please see below, a statement from the BIRDMAN, himself, Queen Victoria’s handler:

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It is so unusual to see a Condor at any event, let alone a sporting event, that some people question how such an appearance is even possible.

The bird, an Andean Condor named “Queen Victoria,” has been an educational ambassador for her species all her life. She has performed in thousands of informative bird programs at zoos, parks, and fairs around the country. She has also helped to draw attention to not only the troubles that both Andean and California Condors face in the wild, but also the ongoing efforts to protect them.  Her owner, Joe Krathwohl, has been a Condor advocate for 23 years, and has even taken Vicki on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in an effort to draw attention to condors. But no appearance has drawn as much attention as when Joe slipped on the ice at a Bakersfield Condors Hockey Game and Vicki then decided to leave him behind and exit the arena directly through the players bench and into the locker room.

Although Andean Condors are an endangered species, Vicki is of a less critical bloodline, and therefore there is no current need to breed her. Since Joe raised Vicki from 10 days old, Vicki has done a great job over her 18+ years, giving bird lovers of all ages a rare chance to see a huge condor up close. Even though Joe was slightly injured in his fall on the ice, there was no chance of injury to the bird. The short time on the ice is nothing compared to the frigid nights in the high Andes Mountains, plus the players were keeping their distance so that skate blades would not be near the bird. When the bird came out, Joe was holding her beak to keep her focus on him, as had worked well in several earlier rehearsals, but in the live show Vicki changed her mind and the safest response was to simply let go of her. Joe then thought there was still time to simply set her up on the perch, so he lifted her up and carried her back, but then slipped on the ice, protected the bird with his body as he fell, then let go again and this time the bird decided to exit the rink. The bird was not “wild,” “out of control,” or  “going crazy.” She was never in any danger. She just simply changed her mind about the routine after she was at center rink. The resulting blooper video went viral.

Periodical educational appearances with condors is how Joe helps to fund his Andean Condor program based at his ranch in Las Vegas. Along with his 5 Condors, Joe also has other eagles, owls, falcons, cassowaries, pelicans, parrots, cranes, ravens and a variety of birds he has rescued for various reasons.

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Thanks, Birdman! We would love to have “Vicki” out at another game sometime. She is a beautiful creature.

-The Mailbag Guy